Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

Pope Francis blesses faithful

On March 13, 2013, 115 cardinals cast votes inside the Vatican to elect the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  At 19:06 local time, white smoke could be seen drifting upwards following the election.  The new pope, who would take the name Pope Francis, emerged from the conclave as the new leader of a global organization facing a number of serious issues.

Stepping onto the world stage, this new pope would inspire everyone with his humility and his concern for the poor.  And, in so doing, he demonstrated a new model for leadership.

 

“Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision and get others to carry it out.” -Jeffrey Krames

 

Jeffrey Krames has written a new book about the pontiff, Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope FrancisHe offers a practical guide for how any leader can take the same principles to become an authentic and humble leader.  I asked Jeff a few questions about his research.

 

Be Authentic.

What is it about Pope Francis that has made him so incredibly popular?

He is absolutely the real thing. I call him “The Authentic Leader.” How rare is that today? No political leaders seem to do anything for the betterment of anyone but themselves, and only after polling the issue. That is the opposite of Pope Francis, who is the most compassionate pope I have experienced in my lifetime. It is why I have dubbed him the “anti-Hitler.”

 

“If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world.” -Pope Francis

 

 

Advocate for the Least of These

What attracted and inspired you, as a Jewish author, to research and write a book about the new Catholic pope?

The answer above answers this question in part. Growing up in a “Holocaust household” is a very difficult thing to do.  There are ghosts of all the people who have perished (and now my kids must grow up as third generation survivor).  So I see Francis as the first person in my lifetime amazing enough to earn the moniker of the anti-Hitler.  He is the 21st century’s answer to the 20th century’s most malevolent mass-murderer.  Hitler hated and attempted to eradicate what he felt was society’s worst.  Francis works every day to lift up the people who have the least—the ones who have been relegated to “society’s dustbin.”

 

12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

  1.  Lead with Humility.
  2. Smell Like Your Flock.
  3. Who Am I to Judge?
  4. Don’t Change-Reinvent.
  5. Make Inclusivity a Top Priority
  6. Avoid Insularity.
  7. Choose Pragmatism over Ideology.
  8. The Optics of Decision-Making.
  9. Run Your Organization Like a Field Hospital.
  10. Live on the Frontier.
  11. Overcoming vs. Sidestepping Adversity.
  12. Pay Attention to Non-Customers.

 

 

 

Pope Francis continues to gain popularity and press every month.  How will Pope Francis influence leaders in other organizations?

How to Develop Your Inner Edge

Moebius Strip

 

“If you want to be your best, you need to build on what’s brilliant about you.” -Joelle Jay

 

Leading On the Edge

Dr. Joelle K. Jay is an expert in personal leadership.  She has coached executives in numerous companies, written several books and numerous articles, and is a principle with the Leadership Research Institute, a global leadership development firm.

Reading Dr. Jay’s new book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, I felt like I had hired a personal leadership coach.  She shares practices and principles that are enduring.  I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions to introduce her thinking to you.

 

“Better leadership equals better results – higher profits, bigger market share and a global advantage.” -Joelle Jay

 

What does it mean to lead on the edge?

“Leading on the edge” is about challenging ourselves to take the leadership position in our own lives – pushing ourselves not to sit back and hope for things to happen but getting out in front and making them happen with our own intent and effort.

 

“Most true happiness comes from one’s inner life.” -William Shirer

 

What are some of the benefits of mastering personal leadership?

I believe that everyone is a leader – if not the leader of a team or a company, at the very least the leader of his or her own life.  Strong companies have learned that better leadership equals better results – higher profits, bigger market share and a global advantage.  Personal leadership helps us get the results we want for ourselves – a more fulfilling career, a more rewarding experience, a happier life.

TheInnerEdge_CoverYour book outlines ten practices of personal leadership.  Let’s discuss a few of them. The first is “get clarity.”  How do you help leaders understand who they are and where they want to go?

I recently heard a speaker say, “Clarity is everything. Confusion is the enemy.”  In our fractured and distracted world, leaders need to learn to cut through the noise to hear their own voice.  They do this by asking themselves powerful questions – chief among them, “What do I want?”  When leaders can get clear about what they want, they can outline the steps to get there.

 

Tap Into Your Brilliance

I love “Tap into your brilliance” because I am often amazed at people’s strengths.  How does a leader encourage an environment where everyone is operating in the strong zone?

 

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

 

When leaders learn to leverage their strengths, they positively burst into action. Suddenly their efforts are infused with energy as they discover they can finally do things their way – the way that comes naturally to them and the way they do them best.  That has a contagious quality, so strengths-based leaders are naturally encouraged by their own successes to help the people around them – their managers, direct reports, their teams – to organize their activities around the strengths in the group.  It’s a more satisfying experience for everyone – but more than that, it’s also far more effective.

“See possibility” is another practice.  One technique you call is “Let it be easy.”  Would you elaborate on this practice for us?

Leading With Others in Mind

Leadership And Synergy Concept Illustration : A Number Of Swans

 

Who do you think of when you think of a servant leader
What are the traits of a servant leader?
Is it possible for an entire organization to have these characteristics?

 

KEEP READING TO LEARN HOW TO GET THE NEW FREE SERVANT LEADERSHIP E-BOOK

 

I love to watch baseball.  Live, up close:  Hearing the “thwack!” of the bat making contact, feeling the crowd take a collective breath as a ball heads for the outfield, peering through the dust to see if the runner made it to home plate.  There is something incredibly different about being there versus watching it on television.  It’s just not the same reading about the game in the newspaper the next morning.

 

“Servant leaders give more in value than they receive.” -Skip Prichard

 

Make the Choice to Learn

When I was young, I had the extraordinary opportunity to watch a different game.  It was also live and up close.  It was servant leadership at home.  My parents literally took people in from all walks of life, individuals who needed a place to heal for all sorts of reasons.  That childhood experience taught me the incredible lessons of a servant leader.  There’s nothing better than watching servant leaders in action, in person, live in the game.

It was early in my life when I started studying leadership.  Attending seminars and listening to teaching became a success habit.  Even more importantly, I realized what I didn’t know, what I had to learn, what I was missing.  I became determined to learn from those who were further along the leadership journey than I was.  Because of this, I began to seek out leaders and ask them questions.

What I’ve learned is that learning is a choice.  The most successful people I meet are constantly learning.  They realize that they don’t have all the answers.

 

“Servant leaders have your best interest in mind.” -Skip Prichard

 

Look for Opportunities to Learn and Share

I’ve run a few global companies and, as the CEO, have hit home runs and have also struck out.  Still, I’m always excited to keep improving my game.  The learning continues.

Launching this blog a few years ago, I decided to share what I am learning from my own experiences, from books I read, and from thought leaders in many industries.  Many of you have said these articles have helped you, but the real beneficiary has been me.  I learn to be a better leader every time I share one of these ideas.  And I also learn from your comments and engagement and the relationships I have established online.

Leaders realize that sharing and giving to others paves the way for more opportunities.  It reinforces ideas and opens unexpected doors.

Today I want to share a new resource.  It’s my free e-book, Servant Leadership: Leading With Others in Mind.  It is free to anyone who signs up on our e-mail list.  (Note: I will never sell your e-mail address.)  Signing up for these posts will help you become a more widely read, more informed leader.

To get your very own copy, just sign up below:

Already on my list? Enter your email above and you'll get instructions on how to download your copy of the ebook.

Why sign up?

  • To become a better leader
  • To be in the running for free book giveaways
  • To receive success tips ranging from how to stop procrastination to how to be a better friend
  • To learn how to manage a crisis, deal with stress, or sleep better
  • To hear from numerous leaders about ideas to design a better life

Thanks for reading this blog and for joining the Leadership Insights community.

 

“A servant leader cultivates a culture of trust.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Servant leaders are not doormats, nor do they take on all of the work.” -Skip Prichard

 

“A servant leader takes care of himself in order to take care of others.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Servant leaders do not falsely take credit nor practice fake modesty.” -Skip Prichard

 

“A servant leader often realizes that she benefits as much from giving as the receiver.” -Skip Prichard

 

 

Leading From The Shadows

Shady image of a business team discussing the latest financial r

When I first became the CEO of a large global company, I could see how dependent I was on others.  My own efforts would be meaningless without many others supporting me.  The top job is often the one in the brightest spotlight, but that person’s success or failure is always the result of a team effort.  Usually a very small group—or even one individual—takes on the key supportive role.

Many people dream of becoming President or the leader of the organization.  Some people realize that they are best suited and happier in a supportive role or as number two.

 

“Success is best defined by yourself, not by others.” -Richard Hytner

 

When #2 is the Key to Success

 

Richard Hytner is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, responsible for global strategy and innovation.  His recent book, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows, is a celebration of the No. 2 role.  This book made an impression on me because I am dependent on the “No. 2’s” and now better understand the role and the motivations.  I also feel better equipped to coach people who are either not looking for the “No. 1” role or are best suited for the supportive jobs.

Richard was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his journey.

Richard, becoming No. 1, you argue, is not always the key to success.  Why not?

Success is best defined by yourself, not by others.  So, if becoming the No. 1 is really important to you, give it a go, see how happy it makes you feel and assess – candidly – how others respond to your leadership from a position of ultimate accountability.  You can, however, be enormously successful on your own terms leading from positions other than the overall No. 1, achieving great things and deriving deep personal satisfaction.  Get rid of the No. 1 and No. 2 in your head and simply weigh each job as an opportunity to test every leadership muscle, not only the one that makes the final decision.

image004Tell me about your personal journey.  When did you realize that being less than “No. 1” was where you would be happier and more successful?

I learned early in my career that leadership is a collective endeavor and, as a CEO, I always surrounded myself with the smartest possible people.  It was only when I took a year out, aged 43, to do the Sloan Fellowship program at London Business School that it dawned on me how many brilliant people there were enjoying significant accountability in roles other than the CEO.  Even though it took me a further three years as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA to work out that I could and should try leading without the authority of a Chief Executive, it was at London Business School that I woke up or, rather, grew up.

 

“Develop a reputation for being a thinker and a doer, or you will run out of usefulness fast.” -Richard Hytner

 

Understanding Different Leadership Types

 

You define “A” leaders as accountable for the enterprise and “C” leaders as the Consiglieri who counsel, support, and deliver for the A.  What are a few differences of what you term “A” and “C” leaders?  

Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership

Baseball on the Pitchers Mound Close Up with room for copy

 

You can learn about leadership from a variety of places.  Researchers Howard Fero and Rebecca Herman decided to study leadership principles in Major League Baseball.  Touring numerous MLB clubhouses and interviewing managers from Tampa’s Joe Maddon to Los Angeles’ Don Mattingly, they developed what they call the 10 bases of leadership.

 

“Hope is energizing, engaging, contagious, and increases our spirit and ability to be resilient.” -Fero and Herman

 

Their new book is called Lead Me Out to the Ballgame: Stories and Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership.  It explores the insights learned from the game of baseball and how they apply to leaders in every situation.

I had an opportunity to ask the authors a few questions about their conclusions.

 

“If you want to be a leader, the first person you have to lead is yourself.” -Mike Scioscia

 

Tell me more about your research.  What were your goals?  Where did your research take you?

The idea came to us about 2.5 years ago when we were in a session at a management conference.  As leadership professors and consultants we know how important it is for people in all walks of life to develop their leadership skills and also know that quite often, they just don’t know how to do it.  As we sat at the conference we had the idea to marry together our love of leadership with our other love, baseball.

Lead Me Out To The BallgameThe goals for our project were pretty ambitious.  Without having any idea of how to go about achieving our goal, we decided we wanted to gain access to the players and managers from the 30 teams in Major League Baseball and find out from them how managers lead their teams, inspire trust, manage diverse populations, and deal with success as well as defeat.  Our objective was to take the stories we heard and use them to develop strategies so that people outside of the game could develop their own leadership skills.  We are proud to say that the ten Bases of Major League Leadership that are included in Lead Me Out to the Ballgame come from the interviews we held with 17 Major League Baseball managers and over 100 MLB players and executives.

Our research took us into the inner sanctum of Major League Baseball as we met with managers in their offices and in their dugouts during batting practice, and even on the third base line as they watched their players warm up.  We also met with players in the clubhouses and learned from them some of the unique ways that their managers helped them to achieve success and overcome obstacles.

 

Your book shares 10 bases of leadership and is broken into 3 major sections:  Leading Ourselves, Leading Others and Leading the Game.  Let’s touch on one of the bases in each section.

10basesofleadership

Leading Yourself.  Base number one is finding your passion.  What advice do you have for someone looking for what really makes them tick, what really drives them?

We heard some great stories from managers and players about the importance of not only finding your passion but showing it to those around you.  Ryan Doumit, a catcher, now with the Atlanta Braves, summed up many of the sentiments we heard when he said, “When the leader, the guy at the helm, believes and is passionate, it’s tough not to feel that same energy.”  This is such a great point as it’s not enough for a person to be passionate about what he or she does. To be a leader this passion needs to be seen by others.  In order for an impact to be made on a team, passion needs to be visible so that others will become excited about a goal as well.

Finding one’s passion is something we all need to do; we need to determine what it is we like to do.  Do we like speaking with people and solving problems?  Do we like crunching numbers and seeing the results emerge in front of our eyes?  Do we like teaching others and seeing the light bulb go off when an idea resonates with them?  To each of us there are different things which excite us, and it’s an individual’s task to identify them and determine what careers are a good fit for the things which excite us.

 

“What I’m most proud of is the culture change, the belief in how it should be done, and then going out there and doing everything they can to make it work and make it happen.” -Ron Washington

 

Leading Others.  Base number seven is effective communication.  What tips do you have to help leaders communicate vision and inspire others?